What is fuel poverty?


Broadly speaking a household is defined as being ‘fuel poor’ if they cannot reasonably afford to heat their home.

Currently in England, fuel poverty is measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator. This defines a household as being fuel poor if:

  • They are living in a property with an EPC rating D or below


  • Spending the amount required to heat their home would leave them with a residual income below the official poverty line

Another common definition used by organisations such as the National Action Energy Charity states that a household is experiencing fuel poverty if they are spending 10% or more of their total household income on energy bills.


There are three main contributors to fuel poverty: low income, high fuel costs and inefficient homes (see diagram below).

Fuel poverty causes

Impacts on health

Why cold temperatures are dangerous

Living in a cold home has impacts on physical and mental health.

Physical health impacts:

  • Cold raises blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Higher falls risks
  • Cold is dangerous to those with high blood pressure

Mental health impacts

  • stress & anxiety over bills
  • social isolation
  • lowers mood
  • going to bed early to stay warm
  • spending time in public buildings to avoid home

Excess Winter Deaths (EWD’s)

EWDs are the difference between the average daily deaths in the winter months (December to March) compared to the rest of the year.

The following figures are for England & Wales EWDs (Including COVID-19):

Winter Period England & Wales EWD’s Portsmouth EWD’s
2021 to 2022 13,400 To be confirmed
2020 to 2021 60,760 250
2019 to 2020 10,400 40


Causes of Excess Winter Deaths:

The top three causes of EWD’s are: respiratory conditions, circulatory conditions and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (see diagram below). Many of the causes can be linked to living in cold homes

Excess winter deaths causes

Health resources